An Overview of Chronic Vaginal Atrophy and Options for Symptom Management

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During the menopausal transition and after menopause, up to 45 percent of women will develop vaginal atrophy as a consequence of decreased levels of circulating estrogen. Symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, soreness, bleeding, increased susceptibility to infection and pain with sexual intercourse. Treatments are often underused because of patient and clinician lack of knowledge of available treatments, embarrassment about initiating a discussion of symptoms and reluctance to initiate hormonal therapy. Methods of symptom management include self-care with over-the-counter agents and prescription treatment with various forms of localized estrogen. Clinicians should consider each woman's unique situation and health history before recommending a management strategy.

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